ISBN #: 978-0062188267
Page Count: 384
Copyright: July 23, 2013
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Original Edition
(Taken from back cover)
Kate is ready to put her nomadic, city-dwelling past behind her when she marries Joe Krause and moves with him to the Iowa farm that has been in his family for more than 140 years. But life on the farm isn't quite as idyllic as she'd hoped. It's filled with chores, judgmental neighbors, and her mother-in-law, who - unbeknownst to Kate until after the wedding - will be living with them.
As Kate struggles to find her place in the small farming community, she begins to realize that her husband and his family are not who she thought they were. According to town gossip, the Krause family harbors a long-kept secret about a mysterious death that haunts Kate as a dangerous, unexplainable chain of events begins.
The book actually begins in 1890 with Hannah, Jacob, and Willie's story and flip-flops back-and-forth between then and present-day. Which, now that I look at the year, doesn't really coincide with the 140-year time-frame given in the summary, does it? I'm wondering if I now missed something during my reading saying that Jacob Krause was actually the second generation to own this farm.
Jacob was abusive and controlling with his first wife, whom died by "falling" down a flight of stairs, and his second wife, Hannah. Jacob's son from his first marriage, Joe, grew up under Jacob's harsh influence. Hannah is able to protect Willie, her son with Jacob, from the majority of Jacob's abuse so far. The saying goes "what goes around comes around" and with Jacob it did. He was murdered in his sleep and Hannah was framed for it. Without the use of forensics in 1890 it was Hannah's word against what seemed to be the facts. It also didn't help that her lawyer and the county attorney were in cahoots together and sent her off to an insane asylum.
The affects of Jacob and Hannah's story trickle down through the generations and are repeated over and over again. Joe's mother, Trudy, calls it the family curse, which is something Kate doesn't believe in. Kate hasn't seen any abusive behavior in Joe ... until they get back to Joe's farm and he is under the influence of his mother again. Kate, unlike the other Krause wives, won't stand for it and leaves the farm considering divorce. Joe eventually agrees to go to marital counseling with her and the couple seem to be heading towards a reconciliation when the unthinkable happens: Joe is murdered by being stabbed in the same manor Jacob was and Kate is framed for his murder.
At first I didn't think Kate's ending was similar to Hannah's, but in a way I guess they are. And please don't presume to think that you know how both of their stories ended by reading this review. I'm not going to tell you EVERYTHING that happened. That would ruin the story for you. =)
Overall, I enjoyed the comparisons to the past and present. The only thing I didn't really care for was how sinister Rose and Willie, Hannah's Willie's great-great-grandson, were portrayed in one part of the book. I wish that would've either been carried out to completion or softened a bit with the same ending it has now. Otherwise The Widows of Braxton County is an enjoyable and quick read. Not one of my favorites, but it would be one that I'd read again for fun.
*A paperback copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.